Loyalists of ailing Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State have accused the acting governor, Alhaji Garba Umar of preventing the state owned television station, TTV, from airing a report of the visit of former commissioners and special advisers to the governor at the weekend.
The former political appointees, who were relieved of their positions a fortnight ago, paid Suntai a solidarity visit at the Government House.
Suntai’s loyalists, who accused Umar of plotting to consolidate his hold on power, alleged that the acting governor ordered Taraba Television (TTV) not to broadcast footage of the visit because it was “positive” news for Suntai.
Gov. Suntai had spent 10 months abroad receiving treatment for injuries he sustained when a plane he was piloting crashed near Yola, Adamawa State on October 25, 2012, but was last month flown back into the country by his loyalists in their bid to prevent Umar from taking over as substantive governor.
The former commissioners and advisers, who prayed for Suntai’s quick and total recovery, also told him that God would not allow anybody to take over his seat.
Former Commissioner for Agriculture, Anthony Jellason, who spoke on behalf of the commissioners said: “We have faith that anything that belongs to a person, God will give him back no matter how long it takes.”
In the video clip, Suntai promptly replied: “It’s true.”
However, it was learnt that Jellason’s statement was not well received by Umar and his supporters, who described it as “insulting” and reportedly stopped the state-run TTV from airing the news.
But the federal government controlled-Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) aired the news.
A TTV staff, who spoke on the condition of anonymity stated that when the complaint was brought, “we acted professionally by not airing the stuff.”
The staff further revealed that the order stopping the news had reached the station even before the video footage arrived.
“We are still looking at the report. We may edit and air it today (yesterday) or we may forget about it since NTA already reported it,” he added.
Suntai’s loyalists alleged that it was not the first time the acting governor had stopped the TV station from carrying a ‘positive’ story on the governor.
It was gathered that the matter was reported to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) while the TTV and NTA were given a 14-day ultimatum to respond to the query.
This allegation was however, denied by the Chief Press Secretary to Umar, Kefas Sule, who stated that “If he (Umar) wanted to stop any news, he would have told me. Maybe TTV have their reason for not carrying the story.”